Presidency replies Ortom, says Buhari didn’t accept invite to be terrorists’ negotiator

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The Presidency on Saturday said the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.), did not accept any invitation to be the negotiator of terrorist group Boko Haram in 2012.

Senior Special Assistant to the President on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, made this known in an interview with BBC News Pidgin on Saturday monitored by The PUNCH.

He was reacting to an allegation levelled against his principal by Benue State Governor, Samuel Ortom, that Boko Haram terrorists once named Buhari as their negotiator when former President Goodluck Jonathan reportedly moved to enter an agreement with the sect.

Shehu described the claim by Ortom as false, adding that Buhari had at several times openly condemned the heinous activities of the insurgents.

Earlier, in a separate interview also on BBC News Pidgin on Saturday, Ortom claimed the President has been complicitous with Boko Haram fighters and bandits killing Nigerians in an alleged agenda to “Fulanise the country”.

“You remember in 2012 or so. I was a minister at the time and we told Goodluck to try to negotiate with Boko Haram. When we called them (Boko Haram fighters) to negotiate, they said, ‘No’, that Buhari will be their coordinator. Buhari was not President then,” the governor alleged.

Responding to the allegation, the presidential spokesman said, “People can make all sorts of claims, they can say all sorts of things. It would have mattered to the nation, to everyone, if at that point, then General Muhammadu Buhari had accepted the invitation to go and be representative of Boko Haram.

“There is no record anywhere that he accepted to be with them and he has denounced them over and over again and has rejected their creed.

“So, I think that statement by the governor is tautological and it doesn’t accord common sense.”

The Presidency and Ortom have been engaged in a war of words lately over the worsening security situation in the country and Buhari’s handling of the matter.

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